Thursday, May 17, 2012
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall tells the story of Sam who died in a car accident, but continues waking up and reliving her last day of life. Sam experiments making different choices in order to change her fate. She discovers how many repercussions there are for each decision she makes. Sam’s new perspective allows her to enjoy moments she would have overlooked on a normal day.
In reliving her last day, Sam experiences a range of emotions and revelations. She sees, as if for the first time, the love displayed in the nuances of every interaction with her parents. In a way, she envies the quirks of her younger sister’s independent spirit. Sam also learns that her best friends are not quite as invincible as she had always perceived them–and still loves them anyway. She discovers that there is pain and imperfection hidden behind the invulnerable mask of popularity. She also learns that some fantasies should never be realized, and that a person’s true persona can be seen if you look closely.
The concept of the butterfly effect is thoroughly explored in Before I Fall. Each iteration of Sam’s day illustrates the massive impact of small changes. Never before did Sam see the impact that one conversation or humiliation can have on a person for a day, or even for years. Though she only has a short time to use her knowledge, Sam understands lasting impact of her interactions with those she encounters, and the importance of being true to herself. Popularity is not what comforts her in the end. Sam’s best day is not spent hanging out with her cool friends, but sharing the joys of her youth with her 8-year-old sister, and connecting with the boy she left behind. Sam experiences aren’t limited to one day–she learns a lifetime worth of lessons. Despite how a person feels, no one is the center of their ecosystem. Each person is interconnected with every other, and their actions can work symbiotically, or their selfishness can break apart the entire system. It isn’t the grand gestures that change lives, but the culmination of millions of individual actions.
If you would do things differently if you could go back and do it again, read Before I Fall.
Oliver, Lauren. Before I Fall. New York: HarperCollins, 2010.